Matters of moment, October 1989

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Good on you, Brum!

Motor racing came late to the British mainland. Not until Brooklands Track was built in 1906/7 did proper racing take place here; Donington didn’t open until 1933 and road racing has been confined by law to Ireland, the loM and Jersey. Until four years ago that is, when, almost incredibly, Birmingham staged its finest Superprix, a street-race emulating those which the Continent had seen for years. Not at first entirely successful, this year the BRSCC organisation, the sensible driving and a close fought race won by F1 driver Jean Alesi (Reynard-Mugen) by a mere 24/100th sec. after 51 laps made this a first class F3000 Halfords Superprix, opened by HRH Prince Edward and watched by a TV-estimated crowd of 80,000. Simon Taylor, assisted by Derek Bell, gave an excellent ITV Sport commentary. So, good on you, Beam! (F3000 report on page 1034) WB

Speed Perspectives

Along the years Motor Sport has fought for many motorists’ rights, advocating higher speed-limits, attacking unfair prosecutions, parking anomalies, traffic congestion, inadequate roads, the evils of tar-spraying, etc. However, we never expected to defend driving too slowly! At present vehicle-owners have many things to contend with, such as fluctuating petrol prices, anonymous radar convictions, the withdrawal of leaded two-star petrol, possible restrictions on the use of historic vehicles and the like. Now they can be fined for driving too slowly, even in a 30 mph limit!

We have to confess, much as this may surprise some of our readers, to feeling some sympathy for the miner who was fined £50 recently, with £15 costs, for driving his Morris Marina at 20 mph in a 30 mph limit area, thus causing a long tail-back of following vehicles. We fret and fume (and swear) with the rest of you when slowly-driven vehicles hold us up. We are aware that legislation has been suggested, applying to snail-like drivers. Right and proper, and the fretting understandable, on mainroads or motorways perhaps. On 30 mph country roads and in winding lanes, the situation seems a bit different. So one wonders under what heading the crawling miner was convicted? If slow moving drivers are to be hauled into the Courts, the legal-beavers, as usual, are in for a profitable time! Will they be defending those out and about on their lawful occasions in JCBs, horseboxes, overladen lorries, hay-balers and other massive farm machinery? What of trailer-caravans, which obscure the view of those hoping to overtake them far more than most laden trailers, because they are higher and wider than the cars towing them, yet are exempt from extra taxation?

It should also be taken into account, in this context, that it is often “number two who causes the queue”. So in convictions for mobile obstruction, the driving ability not only of he or she heading the crocodile but of those too timid or incompetent to pass, must surely be in question. Horse-drawn carts, steam traction-engines and waggons, old cars and lorries on the way to rallies may come under scrutiny if going slowly is to be an apprehendable offence; although the more courteous rallyists pull in at intervals, to allow others to pass them. The miner who, perhaps rightly, says he is unrepentant and intends to continue the steady Marina progress that suits him, may have started something bigger than he realises. Will everyone, old people included, now be expected to keep to the upper-end of all speed limits or will a differential low be established; say, 40 mph in 60 limits, 45 on dual carriageways, seen as contravening the law? We hope it will not become necessary to have to prove special reasons, like fog or busy streets or whatever, to obtain exemption from a too-slow driving conviction. Motor Sport never expected to be defending slow driving, and no doubt most of our readers still prefer to get a decent move on. But think about it! WB

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